The aircraft that Northwest sent on its first direct flight from Bradley to Amsterdam on Sunday was very much a sign of the times. A 160-passenger Boeing 757 modified with angled wing tips to improve fuel efficiency, it is far smaller than the wide-bodied jets that used to be the only commercial aircraft crossing the Atlantic.
I’ve stated before my preference for large , wide-bodied jets with two aisles. I’m talking about the Boeing 747, 767 and 777 models, as well as the late, lamented Lockheed L1011 and the bigger Airbuses. But that’s not the way things are trending in the airline industry, and we’re simply going to see more, smaller jets heading to Europe in the years ahead.
Northwest is flying a 757-200, sometimes referred to as a 752, between Bradley and Amsterdam. It’s an extended range model of one of Boeing’s most common aircraft, with three seats on each side of a single aisle.
Northwest also flies this aircraft domestically, but the transatlantic version has a particularly kind seating configuration. With just 16 seats in first class and 144 in coach, the seats are not squeezed as tightly together. The seat pitch – the distance between rows of seats – is 33 to 34 inches.
It really doesn’t get much better than that in coach.
So, yeah, I prefer a bigger plane. But giving me more leg room is a sure-fire way to make me feel better about a smaller one.